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  • Stroke’s Effect on Vision

    Published Mar. 31, 2017

    Seventy-nine-year-old Rosanne Rodilosso was doing paperwork at her home in Virginia when she suddenly found herself feeling like she was shaking. She was also having trouble speaking clearly. She knew something was wrong and reached for the phone to call for help. Emergency medical responders got her to the hospital quickly, where she was told she was having a stroke.

    A stroke happens when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. It can happen when a blood vessel is blocked from carrying oxygen to any part of the brain. Also, a blood vessel can burst, keeping oxygen from reaching part of the brain. Stroke symptoms depend on what part of your brain was affected.

    In Rosanne’s case, a blood clot on the right side of her brain was the culprit. The next day in the hospital, Rosanne explained what she was feeling to her doctors. They included muscle weakness on her left side, difficulty swallowing, and the frustration of seeing double images.

    What Do You See After a Stroke?

    A stroke affecting either side of the brain may cause problems with vision. This is because the visual pathways responsible for your sight involve both sides of the brain.

    How your vision is affected by stroke depends on several factors. They include what part of the brain was affected, how severe the stroke was, and how long before it was treated.

    Common vision problems from stroke include:

    Drawing a Blank: Sight Loss In Your Field of Vision

    In some cases, someone who has had a stroke may lose a portion of their vision on one side. For instance, one may only see half of their normal vision in the right or left half of each eye’s field of vision. Sometimes, people might not realize or notice that they aren’t seeing a part of their normal field of vision.

    Double Vision Can Make Seeing Clearly Twice As Hard

    It is common for people who have had a stroke to have problems moving their eyes together in a particular direction. This can mean both eyes won’t work together as a pair. As a result, someone can have blurred and double vision. That impacts your ability to walk, read and do other activities.

    A simple temporary fix can include wearing a patch over one eye. This can help resolve frustrating double vision.

    Prisms—special lenses that bend light—may be helpful. They can minimize or eliminate the double vision, providing a more normal view.

    An ophthalmologist can examine your eyes after a stroke and provide options for improving vision as you recover.

    Watching for Signs of Vision Improvement

    Rosanne began physical therapy right away to work on regaining her ability to swallow and to strengthen her muscles to help her walk. To help with the double vision, she patched one eye, alternating from one to the other throughout the day. She also found that wearing a visor helped, cutting glare and offering some relief from her light sensitivity.

    With time, Rosanne has completely regained the ability to swallow. Her strength is improving daily with continued therapy for improved balance and mobility. She is also working with her ophthalmologist to assess and minimize the stroke’s impact on her sight. The double vision is improving and she is using her patching technique to help her throughout the day. Together, she and her ophthalmologist will monitor her continuing vision needs.